I’m a big fan of photographing the Disney fireworks with neutral density filters. I’ve photographed all of the fireworks shows enough times that I have more photos of them than I’ll ever know what to do with, but I can’t resist the urge to shoot them every night we’re at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. It’s like some strange addiction. Neutral density filters for fireworks appeal to me for a couple of reasons. First, they can make for a colorful, chaotic, and bombastic (/obscure ISO 5571 reference) photo. Second, they add a challenge to photographing the fireworks, making fireworks photography a high risk, high reward proposition.
The purpose of this post is to demonstrate the level of risk inherent in using a neutral density filter, and the potential fruits of taking the risk. This post assumes you know both how to photograph fireworks and have a neutral density filter. If you don’t know how to photograph fireworks, here’s a good starting point. (I’ll also toss in a plug for the How to Photograph Fireworks eBook I co-authored with Cory Disbrow and Adam Hansen, which I think is probably the best way to learn…but I’m just a tad biased.) If you aren’t familiar with neutral density filters, here’s a post I wrote a while back and have updated regularly comparing different options I’ve owned, tested, and researched.
With many Disney hobbyist photographers heading to PhotoMagic 2013 next week, I figured now would be a good time to cover this topic. Hopefully it can give you an edge in their fireworks contest (assuming they have such a contest…and they should)! Unfortunately, we won’t be able to join the fun, but it sounds like the gang at Disney Photography Blog has set up a great event.
The best way to tackle this post is through examples, so let’s take a frame by frame, minute by minute, look at my shots from the “Remember… Dreams Come True” fireworks at Disneyland shot on September 29, 2013. After we’re done with the series, I’ll examine the upside and downside to using an ND filter to photograph fireworks. (more…)